Want to survive? Educate your people.
It’s a simple matter of succession, really. Do you want to ensure the future success of your organization? Train your future leaders to grab the baton when you’re ready to leave.
And still, too many of today’s leaders are paranoid about personal development. “What happens if I train my people and they leave?” they ask.
A better question is this: “What happens if I don’t train them and they stay?”
Time and time again, CPA leaders have told us their top priority is to educate their future leaders, and with good reason: The future of their organization depends on it.
Then, when it’s time to back up those words, they lock up those future leaders and throw away the key. “We’re too busy to train them,” they claim.
What a crock. You’ll busy yourselves right out of existence if you’re not careful.
When you think about it, you’ve got no choice BUT to turn your leaders loose to learn. If you help your people grow, they’ll kill or die for you, and that will strengthen your organization in the process.
And what does your team need to learn? They’ll happily tell you … if you’ll only take the time to listen.
We did a LOT of listening at the 2016 Winning Is Everything Conference in Las Vegas. A panel discussion there featured words of wisdom from both current and future leaders, and the consensus was clear: Get your people out there. Connect them with the profession. Teach them to lead. And remember: You can’t do any of those things by locking your young leaders in their offices.
The panel included Allison Harrell, a CPA and shareholder with Thomas Howell Ferguson, P.A.; Justin O’Horo, a partner with WithumSmith+Brown; Jim Boomer, chief information officer for Boomer Consulting; and Gary Boomer, Boomer Consulting’s founder and CEO.
Here’s a taste of what they had to say.
- Allison Harrell: The key to future success? ”I got out there … into the profession and the community. And I spoke my mind. Building relationships is key. Learning people skills is hard, but it’s absolutely essential.”
- Jim Boomer: “Get outside of your four walls and learn from others. … You are much more at risk if you don’t invest in your people.”
- Gary Boomer: Exposing our team to others outside of our profession helps them grow as CPAs, advisors and people.
- Justin O’Horo: Connecting to the profession and the people in it gives you insights that you can bring back to your firm.
- Gary Boomer: Professional development is about more than personal growth. It’s tied directly to succession planning. His advice to current leaders: Identify young stars early and get them introduced to the right people. Seed their growth.
- Gary Boomer: Firms recognize the need for personal growth but often are still reluctant to send young pros to leadership events. If you don’t give good, young people a growth path, they’ll get stuck, and that leads to cynicism … or departure.
- Gary Boomer, channeling Charlie “Tremendous” Jones: “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”
The bottom line? Educate your people. Make them smarter. Help them grow by introducing them to people who are committed to growth.
If you do that, they’ll stick around. If they stick around, a couple of things will happen: (a) They’ll strengthen your organization, and (b) they’ll strengthen themselves in the process.
Making your future leaders smarter and more loyal? That’s gold … for you AND them.
What are you doing to make that happen?